Author Topic: Are there any completely analytic or completely synthetic languages?  (Read 556 times)

Offline Befuddled

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for instance, are there any languages that don't use any particles or prepositions? Or any languages that don't alter words for any reason? I know Finnish and Mandarin come close, but I don't think they're completely analytic or synthetic.

Offline panini

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Re: Are there any completely analytic or completely synthetic languages?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2018, 02:19:23 PM »
Nobody knows what an "analytic" versus a "synthetic" language is, so the notion of purity or absoluteness doesn't mean anything. Approximately, an analytic language doesn't have much inflectional morphology. This is distinct from a so-called isolating language in that if there is zero inflection, it's isolating. So if a language is "completely" analytic, it isn't analytic anymore, it is isolating.

"Synthetic" language tend to have lots of morphology, which includes not only Russian but also Greenlandic. To be "absolutely" synthetic, the language would have to only have 1-word utterances, where that one word includes everything that you wanted to say. I would say that Finnish is more in the middle in the reach for syntheticity. Subjects, verbs and objects are separate words, adjectives and adverbs are separate words, they do use modal verbs, verb negation is a two-word construction etc. (In Bantu, negation of the verb is typically part of the verb's morphology). As for Mandarin, maybe it, or Vietnamese have the least morphology.

One of the biggest problems with these concepts is that they depends on having clear means of identifying words versus word-sequences.